The ‘Republic of Fear’ is happening right now.
People often don’t even know who are behind the threats they receive - to cover their faces, to stop driving themselves, to stop using cell phones (women), to stop wearing shorts or jeans (men, children), the U.S. Embassy’s Iraqi staff are afraid to let even their families know where they work, the sectarian faultlines are tearing intermarried families apart, Iraqis working with Westerners don’t carry Western cellphones in case of abduction, and that’s just the start.
Paragraph 19: "Staff members say they daily assess how to move safely in public. Often, if they must travel outside their own neighborhoods, they adopt the clothing, language, and traits of the area. In Jadriya, for example, one needs to conform to the SCIRI/Badr ethic; in Yusufiya, a strict Sunni conservative dress code has taken hold. Adhamiya and Salihiya, controlled by the secular Ministry of Defense, are not conservative. Moving inconspicuously in Sadr City requires Shiite conservative dress and a particular lingo. Once-upscale Mansur district, near the Green Zone, according to one employee, was an “unrecognizable ghost town.” (My hand transcription from PDF; apologies for any typos.)
Paragraph 20: “Since Samarra, Baghdadis have honed their survival skills. Vocabulary has shifted to reflect new behavior. Our staff - and our contacts - have become adept in modifying behavior to aviod “Alasas,” informants who keep an eye out for “outsiders” in neighborhoods. The Alasa mentality is becoming entrenched as Iraqi security forces fail to gain public confidence.” (My transcription again.)
Paragraph 21: “Our staff report that security and services are being rerouted through “local providers” whose affiliations are vague. As noted above, those who are admonishing citizens on their dress are not known to the residents. Neighborhood power providers are not well known either, nor is it clear how they avoid robbery and targeting. Personal safety depends on good relations with the “neighborhood” governments, who barricade streets and ward off outsiders. The central government, our staff says, is not relevant; even local mukhtars have been displaced or coopted by militias. People no longer trust most neighbors.” (Same note.)
Part of Paragraph 6, courtesy of the E&P link: “An Arab newspaper editor told us he is preparing an extensive survey of ethnic cleansing, which he said is taking place in almost every Iraqi province, as political parties and their militias are seemingly engaged in tit-for-tat reprisals all over Iraq.”
I don’t have any answers. Just don’t tell me how good news is going unreported. This isn’t the Liberal Media; this is U.S. Embassy reportage; it’s the sort of thing they’re NOT sharing with us. (The WaPo wasn’t supposed to see this cable.)
This is how it is. After three years.